- The CLEEN Foundation (formerly known as Centre for Law Enforcement Education in Nigeria) was established in 1998 as a leading non-partisan, non-governmental organization (NGO) with a mission to promote public safety, security and access to justice in Nigeria.
- CLEEN Foundation launched its Elections Security Support Centre (ESSC) last Friday, the 15thof February, to provide real-time security situation analysis and coverage of the 2019 General Elections.Since the rescheduling of the 16thFebruary elections, the ESSC has been monitoring and documenting incidents of electoral violence across the 36 states and the FCT through our 1,600 field observers deployed across the 774 Local Government areas in the country.
- Since the last six days, we have observed some public safety and security concerns around the country leading to the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly Elections.CLEEN Foundation uses this opportunity to notify the security agencies, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the media and the general public that the verified incident reports from our election observers across the nation reveals that election related violence has claimed lives and led to the destruction of property in twelve (12) states: Borno, Benue, Gombe, Delta, Kogi, Ondo, Ebonyi, Kwara, Akwa Ibom, Kaduna, Zamfara and Kano States.Our field observers across the nation have reported incidents of election related violence including politically motivated killings, attacks by insurgents, fighting among party supporters and thugs, destruction of property and vandalization of INEC offices/property.
- The spate of violence witnessed since the election was rescheduled from the 16th of February 2019 further validates earlier findings of CLEEN Foundation’s analysis of the Election Security Threat Assessment (STA) which identified political thugs as major threats that could perpetrate electoral violence in the 2019 General Elections.
- The security threat posed by these developments will likely cause voter apathy amongst the generality of Nigerian voters who may be worried about their security and safety when they go out to vote.
- Consequently, we use this medium to call on all stakeholders to uphold their duty towards peaceful conduct of the 2019 general elections. Nigerian citizens should avoid electoral infractions that will impact negatively on the conduct of the elections.
- We particularly call on security actors to refrain from unwarranted use of force and should promptly address any incident that is likely to cause electoral violence before, during and after the elections. For a country working to strengthen the relations between the populace and security actors, the use of unwarranted force may be counter-productive.
- CLEEN Foundation will continue its partnership with key stakeholders in observing the elections and particularly the conduct of security actors on election duty through our ESSC for the 2019 general elections. Updates from the ESSC can be followed through our hashtag #2019ElectionSecurity.
- Finally, we are hopeful of a peaceful, credible, free and fair elections as we go into the 2019 General Elections.
- In the light of our findings in the last one week, we make the following recommendations:
- Election Management Body (INEC):
- Should ensure logistic and operational challenges in the movement of electoral materials (both sensitive and non-sensitive) are adequately addressed before the polls tomorrow.
- Provisions of adequate logistics, welfare and security for personnel and ad-hoc staff especially the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members
- Should resolve the mix-up in the movement of election materials to the various states and destinations across the country.
- Political Parties:
- Should ensure that their leaders, candidates, members and supporters play the game according to the various legal framework governing the electoral process and should abide by the ideals of the various peace accords at all levels that have been signed by leaders of the various political parties.
- Should avoid hate speeches, vote buying, political thuggery and intimidation and any incidence capable of disrupting the peaceful conduct of the elections.
- Security Agencies:
- Should be professional, impartial and incorruptible in securing the election
- Should abide by the Code of Conduct for security personnel on election duty.
- Avoid unwarranted use of force that will negatively impact on election security and participation of citizens during the elections
- Oversight bodies of the various security agencies should monitor the conduct of security agents on election duty and commit to applying appropriate sanctions in the event of infractions.
- The Media:
- Should remain professional, comply with the provisions of the electoral law and respect the ethical codes for free, open and transparent coverage of the elections.
- Shouldavoid sensationalism and fake news or disinformation/ or misinformation of the public before, during and after the elections.
- Media regulatory bodies should monitor and apply appropriate sanctions against erring media practitioners and outlets.
- Election Observers:
Observers should abide by the norms and codes guiding election observation and avoid statements and actions capable of undermining the credibility of the elections.
- Nigerian citizens:
- Encouraged to come out and exercise their civic responsibility in an orderly and peaceful manner. Security actors are poised to ensure the security of voters and of the voting process.
- Working as citizen observers, they report only verified incidences of electoral infraction to security agencies through appropriate reporting channels provided them
- Should encourage each other to be orderly and peaceful before, during and after the elections.
- May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Benson Olugbuo, Ph.D